Canada's immigration minister has told Iran International Ottawa is seeking new measures to support Iranians in the face of systematic human rights violations by the Islamic Republic.
Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Sean Fraser elaborated on the Thursday announcement about Canada making it easier for Iranians who wish to extend their temporary status in Canada, allowing them to apply for a new permit from inside the country.
In his virtual interview with Mahsa Mortazavi, he said the measures were meant to help those Iranians who fear for their safety and prefer to stay longer in Canada after their temporary visa expires rather than return home amid an uprising in Iran, now into its six months and gaining more momentum.
Fraser said as per their new regulations, Iranians studying, working or visiting family or any other temporary stay can get an extension of two years. The application process will be up and running as of March, he added.
In addition to the new measures, the Canadian government also plans more options for other Iranians, who wish to immigrate to Canada. He, in particular, mentioned the special program that Canada has for people who seek refuge because they are being persecuted as human rights defenders.
“We’re seeing and hearing stories from the Iranian community in Canada that there are many individuals who are vulnerable as a result of them standing up for human rights in Iran,” he said, adding that they are looking at the options to expand access to this stream.
Answering a question about the situation of many Iranians who fled to Turkey in recent months to escape persecution by the regime, he said the situation is very challenging. He acknowledged the “extraordinary danger” they are facing in Turkey – considering Ankara’s close relations with Tehran and its proximity – saying Canada wants to do more to facilitate the protection of vulnerable individuals.
He noted that there are certain unique challenges in Turkey, some of which are outside the control of the Canadian government and related to Turkish regulations, such as the documents needed to exit Turkey.
He promised they are going to consider other options for the Iranians who have fled and are staying in third countries, such as Turkey.
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Amid nationwide protests, ignited by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in September, economic hardship and uncertainty about their future, more and more Iranians are emigrating, and Canada is one of the top destinations. However, since going directly to Canada needs a long process in addition to money, many have to go to nearby countries. The accelerating exodus is not limited to medical and engineering professionals anymore as many business owners have also started to transfer their businesses to neighboring countries where business is easier.
Fraser also talked about the sanctions and inadmissibility provisions on Iranian individuals connected to the Islamic Republic and especially to the Revolutionary Guard. He insisted that anyone the top 50-percent regime officials would not be admitted. He explained that in addition to their list of sanctions on specific individuals, Ottawa is also putting in place regulations that can track down such individuals inside Canada and remove them from the country.
Canadian Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs Rob Oliphant told Iran International late in January that Ottawa needs to have a coordinated front against the atrocities of the Islamic Republic and the IRGC, both inside Canada and abroad.
He said the quickest action the Canadian government can take is limiting the activities of the Islamic Republic “through both the immigration act as well as through the special economic measures act that targets sanctions on those in the IRGC who are most directly responsible for the atrocities which they are committing on behalf of the regime.”